Written by Uma Challa.
In May 2003, the National Commission for Women (NCW) felicitated one Ms. Nisha Sharma for canceling her own wedding, standing up against the evil of dowry and sending out a “loud and clear message to dowry seekers”, and Ms. Sharma became a role model for all women, overnight. The truth, that her wedding was not cancelled due to additional demands for dowry, but because of Ms. Sharma’s pending issues with a former boyfriend, was quietly pushed under the carpet by the NCW.
In the same vein, in July 2007, a woman called Pooja Chauhan made false accusations of dowry harassment against her husband and mother-in-law, and paraded the streets of Rajkot semi-nude as a symbol of protest. The NCW was very prompt in reacting to the incident, ensured the arrest of the husband, mother-in-law, and neighbors too, for allegedly committing domestic violence against Ms. Chauhan. It did not take too long for the truth to come out and for the NCW spokesperson to put her foot in her mouth, and quickly cover up their faux pas.
In February 2009, NCW showed its characteristic promptness in ordering a probe into the “Mangalore pub incident” when a number of girls were allegedly molested by some goons in the middle of the night. The NCW and other women’s rights champions had a field-day harping about increasing atrocities on women. When the investigation report filed by Karnataka Women’s Commission Chairperson, Nirmala Venkatesh, revealed certain inconvenient truths, the NCW found itself in the same usual “foot-in-its-mouth-situation”. This time the NCW rejected Ms.Venkatesh’s report, and fired her to save its own face.
On 5 October 2009, an airhostess approached the NCW with allegations of assault and molestation on a pilot and co-pilot of a plane on which she was a crew member. While counter allegations and witness statements quickly revealed that the story of the airhostess may just be another story like those mentioned above, the NCW habitually jumped into action, and instituted a panel for investigation into the issue, in less than 2.5 days after the incident.
The two pilots have been fired even before the investigation could begin. Knowing NCW’s track record of rendering justice in such situations, does one have to really guess the outcome of this episode? Never mind! The NCW is just doing its job of looking after protection and empowerment of women in a male dominated society. After all, it should be okay to penalize a few innocent men to protect thousands of vulnerable women, right?
Oh! Wait a minute! Don’t jump to conclusions so soon!
Beginning year 2005, several elderly women, falsely accused under IPC Section 498A (for the only crime of mothering sons and getting the sons married) approached the NCW, seeking justice. These women have long heart-rending accounts of how they are being harassed by their daughters-in-law. The NCW’s short, yet prompt and candid response to these mothers was, “Your matter does not fall under the mandate of the Commission”.
Similarly, in June 2009, a 45 year old woman who was arrested on charges of dowry harassment was allegedly gang-raped in police custody, in Bhopal. The news, which was reported in leading newspapers, went completely unnoticed by the NCW. No panel, no probe, even 2.5 months after the incident. Surprised? No need to be. This is simply one more matter that does not fall under the mandate of NCW.
Indian women need to be very clear about their expectations from the NCW, when the NCW is so clear about its mandate. You should know by now that the NCW is literally working overtime for the cause of disgruntled, adulterous, parasitic and criminal-minded wives, girlfriends and female workers. How many more matters would you expect the NCW to include in its mandate? Why are so many of you women surprised about NCW’s modi operandi? Beats me!